Chapter 15: Epilogue
The Atom Bomb with its devastating results came as a shock and surprise to the Allies just as much as to the Japanese. The Japanese were at the time holding a perimeter extending in places to a radius of 3,000 miles from Tokyo, and though this perimeter had been pierced by the Allied forces, who had liberated Burma and the Philippines and seized Okinawa, their hold on the outlying strongholds in the Western and Central Pacific prevented concentration of maximum force against the Japanese homeland. Particularly important from this point of view were the Japanese positions in Tenasserim, the Kra Isthmus, Malaya and Sumatra which covered the approaches to Singapore and guarded the Malacca Straits – gateway to the South China Sea and the shortest route from India to Japan.
Operations designed to re-open that sea route had high priority in the plans of the Combined Chiefs of Staff who conferred at Potsdam in July 1945. In fact, preliminary moves were well under way in that month, with British and Indian Minesweepers (HMIS Punjab and HMIS Deccan were mentioned in official reports at that time) methodically clearing the waters between the Nicobar Islands, the Malay Peninsula and the northern tip of Sumatra, in spite of opposition from the air. Meanwhile personnel of the Royal Indian Navy, Landing Craft Wing, who had established their fame in the Arakan earlier that year, had proceeded to the Middle East to commission a number of new Tank Landing Craft handed over by the Royal Navy. They had completed a period of strenuous training with their new craft and were “all set” for the fast approaching D-Day.
This D-Day however never came. On 15 August when war correspondents were congregating in Ceylon to cover South-East Asia Command’s greatest enterprise, news was received of Emperor Hirohito’s acceptance of unconditional surrender. Faced with the danger of complete destruction the Japanese had no other choice. The secret weapon which wrought havoc on Hiroshima and Nagasaki convinced them of the futility of any further fighting. Overnight their policy, which had been to prolong the war in the hope of securing a negotiated peace, underwent a radical change. The surrender of their forces to the Allies was arranged in the various sectors. In
Singapore was celebrated the surrender of the Japanese army in South-East Asia.
Representing the Royal Indian Navy in Singapore waters, while the surrender of all Japanese forces in South-East Asia was taking place ashore, were warships that had played a gallant part in the struggle against Japan. Among them were the sloops HMIS Godavari, HMIS Cauvery, RIN Fleet Minesweepers Punjab, Bihar, Kumaon and Rohilkhand, motor launches of the 56th (RIN) ML Flotilla and the Coastal Forces Depot and Repair Ship, HMIS Barracuda.
Minesweeping Operations in the Malacca Straits
Captain R. H. V. Sievewright who led British minesweepers across the English Channel ahead of the invasion force on their way to Normandy in 1944 was now (1945) in command of the Minesweeping Force which stood by at sea to clear a safe lane through the shallow, mined waters of the Malacca Strait. With this force the Channels were cleared of the minefields, which enabled the ships of the East Indies Fleet along with convoys comprising of food and hospital ships to arrive safely at Singapore and other Malayan ports. With the arrival of the Fleet the tens of thousands of Allied prisoners of war were released.
As the Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia, Admiral the Lord Louis Mountbatten was to receive the surrender at Singapore units of the East Indies Fleet were employed on this occasion-and amongst them was the 37th Mine Sweepers Flotilla. The Invasion Fleet sailed from Trincomalee on 15 August 1945 and on its arrival in the Malacca Straits, the 37th Mine Sweepers Flotilla commenced sweeping a channel at the northern end, 10 cables in width, in order that HMS Sussex, carrying the Japanese negotiators, might pass through in safety. Charts of the Japanese minefields handed over by the Japanese envoys at Penang two days before were interpreted, and the necessary information was then-held by the minesweepers which came to have an arduous programme ahead, their task being as important as any to be tackled by Fleet Minesweepers during the war. Two flotillas were employed on this minesweeping operation which started on 2 September 1945. They were the 6th MSF consisting of nine ships and the 37th MSF consisting of HMI ships Rohilkhand, Khyber, Kathiawar, Orissa, Rajputana, Konkan, Bihar, Deccan, Carnatic, (minesweepers), HMI Ships, Bengal, Oudh, Kumaon, and Punjab (dan-layers), and HMIS Baluchistan (mine destroyer).
The entire operation was completed in three days in which time all moored mines were swept and a check sweep indicated the channel was navigable.
On 5 September the Flotilla commenced sweeping a known Japanese minefield off the Morib beaches to facilitate the safe landing of the occupation troops, which was due to commence at daybreak on 9 September 1945. The Japanese mines were reported to have been laid in two lines in a southerly direction and about 2 miles apart. The first part of the operation consisted in locating the mines. And this done, the mines (27 of them) were cut and sunk and the operation was completed by the 8th, a day before the troops were due to land. During this period HMI ships Bihar and Punjab were attached to the 7th Mine Sweepers Flotilla and were employed on minesweeping duties off Sabang and south-east of Singapore. On completion of these duties these two ships were also employed in a sweep off Batavia.
Among the ships engaged in the Malacca Straits after 2 September 1945, and which had previously rendered excellent service in sweeping ahead of the Invasion Force which retook Rangoon in May 1945, are to be mentioned: HMIS Rajputana, HMIS Kathiawar, HMIS Konkan, HMIS Deccan, HMIS Carnatic, HMIS Oudh, HMIS Kumaon and HMIS Baluchistan.
Early in October 1945, the 37th Mine Sweepers Flotilla commenced a clearance sweep of a one-fathom-bank minefield in the Malacca Straits. The lines of mines were a mile and in some cases more from their charted positions as reported by the Japanese. This was not unusual due to the difficulty of obtaining accurate fixes. The total number of mines destroyed was 95 and, bearing in mind the difficulties associated with tidal streams and varying depths of water, the task of sweeping this area was hazardous. The Flotilla encountered numerous shoals which were not in their charted positions. All the same, the total area swept was 110 square miles. A check sweep was carried out on 23 October, during which two mines were destroyed. The entire operation was completed by 26 October.
The last of the minesweeping operations commenced on 9 November 1945. The area, Singapore Roads, proved to be clear of mines and the check sweep was not considered necessary on this occasion. On 13 November the 37th Mine Sweepers Flotilla sailed from Singapore for Trincomalee and arrived there on the 19th sailing the next day for Bombay and arriving on 25 November 1945.
The Commanding Officer of HMIS Deccan, Lieut. Commander C. J. Mohan, RINR, was complimented by the Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Force on the gallant part played by his ship in the British East Indies Fleet’s minesweeping operations off the Malayan coast at the end of July 1945.
HMIS Deccan was employed in laying dan-buoys to mark the channel cleared by the minesweepers at the entrance to the Malacca Straits and also carried out the destruction of mines located by the Flotilla. When one of H.M. minesweeper caught fire, the Deccan was the first ship to go alongside to take off the crew. Subsequently, while the minesweeper fought the fire with the aid of another Indian warship, the Punjab, the Deccan protected both ships from bombing attacks by laying a smoke screen and putting up an effective barrage with her guns. It was ‘believed that she had scored hits on an attacking bomber.
At one stage in the minesweeping operations she had a narrow escape from being damaged by a mine which had suddenly appeared in the sea twenty feet away. As the mine was drifting towards her, the Deccan slipped the dan-buoy mooring wire, manoeuvring to the correct range, and sank the mine with gunfire.
Manoeuvring alongside a burning minesweeper, the officers and ratings of HMIS Punjab fought the fire until orders were given to abandon the crippled ship. Casting off, the Punjab took aboard the crew of the minesweeper and stood by as she was sunk by guns of the British East Indies Fleet. The incident occurred during the minesweeping operation off the Malay Coast, which coincided with heavy naval air strikes against the Japanese in South-East Asia. The Punjab then was one of the RIN dan-layers working with a Royal Navy Minesweeping Flotilla.
After striking a mine, one of the RN minesweepers, HMS Squirrel, caught fire below decks. The Commander of the Punjab took his ship alongside, manned the hoses and attempted to extinguish the flames. After half an hour, however, the ship had to be abandoned, and the Punjab cast off, taking the survivors with her.
During the minesweeping operations off Malaya her gunners scored hits on a Japanese “suicide” plane.
The Liberation of Andamans
When the convoy bringing our troops and supplies arrived to occupy the Andamans in October 1945, they found
HMIS Narbada, Flagship of the Royal Indian Navy, already anchored in the deep sea harbour of Port Blair. Operating off the Andamans days before the main force arrived, she had performed a number of valuable tasks essential to the success of the re-occupation. One of the first was to prepare for our incoming ships a safe anchorage in those mined waters. At conferences lasting over five days, questions about the minefields, anchorages etc. were put to the Japanese authorities, led by Vice-Admiral Teizo Hara, Commanding the Japanese Naval Forces in the islands, and early answers were demanded.
A week before our troops reached Port Blair, HMIS Narbada had organised landing parties to search for people on outlying islands. Those found in Havelock, Nancowry and Long Islands had grim tales of hardship to tell. Some recuperated aboard the Narbada, where they were given every care and attention.
Commanded by Lieut. Commander J. F. Bayliss, RIN, the Indian warship kept vigilant watch off shore as our troops took over the Andamans three-and-a-half years after their evacuation in March 1942. Her reassuring presence near the troops’ point of disembarkation was in itself a safeguard against hostile action by the Japanese.
On the arrival of the convoy, the bigger ships anchored at the eastern end of Port Blair harbour, and the Navy lost no time in putting the troops ashore. Landing craft sped past the Narbada in perfect order with advanced units of 8/5 Rajputana Rifles. Soon other Landing Craft Assault did many trips between the convoy and shore. The troops landed in assault order, fully armed, taking no risks, and, advancing without incident, secured their positions and established headquarters.
The Narbada took a prominent part in the Arakan operations early that year. Her then Commanding Officer Captain H. M. St. I. Nott, RIN was awarded the DSO. In those operations she fired over 10,000 rounds and shot down two air craft. Twenty per cent of the Distinguished Service Medals awarded to ratings who had served in the Arakan, went to her ship’s company.
Between 26 September 1945 and 5 November 1945, the period of her stay in Port Blair, the Narbada was extremely busy. She sent search parties to all the islands to search for survivors of internees and prisoners who had been deported from Port Blair. The search parties interrogated the local inhabitants also. Considerable data was collected. Two visits were also paid to Nancowry in the Nicobars.
Visiting a small village on Car Nicobar Island, the Narbada’s officers with a civilian officer found in a small hut an Indian doctor’s
family consisting of a mother and three children – the eldest only six-with their ayah, who had tended them all through the difficult period of the Japanese occupation. They had a tragic story to tell. They were brought to the Narbada and escorted to Port Blair.
The Narbada also did an excellent job in providing wireless communications for the army, civil authorities and the press, to India and Ceylon. On 5 November 1945 she was relieved by HMIS Kistna.
Operational Programmes of Other Ships
Between July 1945- and the close of the year, ships of the Royal Indian Navy were employed in varied activities. HMIS Godavari and HMIS Cauvery joined the British Pacific Fleet in October. They were employed on escort duty on the China Coast. The Godavari called at Hong Kong in October. The end of the war did not mean the end of work for her. The Godavari was ordered to proceed to the rescue of a Chinese junk which had her mast and sail blown away and her engines damaged in a typhoon. She helped the junk in getting back to Hong Kong from St. John’s Island, eighty miles south-west of Macao.
The Landing Ship Infantry (Large), HMIS Llanstephen Castle, completed her Rangoon-Madras trooping programme in July, and after a short stay at Karachi for repairs, proceeded to Hong Kong carrying the 3rd Commando Brigade. She arrived there on 11 September and sailed a week, later carrying released Allied prisoners of war and internees to India. During October the ship made one trip carrying troops to Batavia. Most of the Basset trawlers were engaged on a towage programme between Mandapam, Chittagong and Rangoon. HMIS Sind assisted in that programme on the Chittagong-Rangoon leg. HMIS Assam was stationed at Karachi for air-sea rescue duties and HMIS Gondwana continued sea training work at Bombay. During the severe cyclone on the east coast in mid-October, HMIS Ahmedabad sailed from Vizagapatam to search for a Royal Navy Landing Craft Tank which was overdue. The Ahmedabad was herself driven aground off Coconada and salvage operations soon started.
HMI ships took part in two relief operations for the civil population. In October, HMIS. Poona made two trips to the Laccadive Island to land medical parties to fight a smallpox epidemic, and HMI ships Hindustan and Karachi carried relief supplies to Pasni and Ormara (Las Bela and Kelat States) after the November earthquake and tidal wave.
HMI ships Sutlej and Jumna were under refit at Bombay and Massawa respectively for most of the period. HMIS Hindustan was withdrawn from operational service, and allotted as Gunnery Firing Ship. HMIS Lawrence had joined the Bombay Training Flotilla. HMIS Investigator, the Boys Training Ship, made two lengthy training cruises to the East African coast, one in August-September, and one in November-December. She visited Killindini, Lindi, Dar-es-Salaam, Zanzibar and the Seychelles, and was enthusiastically received at all ports. HMIS Nasik replaced HMIS Nautilus as High Frequency/Direction Finding Calibration ship at Trincomalee.
Ships Commissioned and Paid off in 1945
Several new ships were commissioned, including three new frigates, HMI ships Dhanush, Shamsher and Tir (formerly H.M. ships Deveron, Nadder and Bann). The first of those frigates were meant to be utilised as training ships, to enable HMI Ships Lawrence and Clive to be paid off. The following ships were then under construction:–
Bangors: HMIS Malwa
Bassets: HMIS Cochin, Lucknow, Peshawar, Quetta and Rampur.
HMIS Rampur was commissioned on 17 October. During the period the following ships were paid off from naval service:–
HMIS Pansy returned to owners, HMIS Somagvi was transferred to the army as a store carrier. In addition, the following ships were also paid off:–
HMIS Cornwallis, HMIS Oostacapelle, Satyavati, Lilavati, Hiravati, Netravati, Ratnagiri, Ramdas, Sonavati, Kalavati and Bhadravati.
Demobilisation of Ships in 1945
Out of the 37 Auxiliary vessels which were requisitioned during the war, 15 were returned to their owners, 9 were taken over by Other services, 5 were still in commission and 8 were in the process of being paid off.
Forging ahead in the Home and Other Fronts
Salvage in 1945
The Royal Indian Navy Salvage Organisation prepared the SS Elhind for towing to Mandapam where she was sunk as a breakwater. This necessitated lightening the ship considerably by oxy-acetylene cutting and other means to bring the vessel to the required
draught for approaching Mandapam. An RIN Salvage Officer assisted in the sinking of the ship in position. The organisation was able to raise in three days the tug Foremost which had sunk outside the entrance to Mazagon dry dock, Bombay. The Port Trust tug Ranger which sank in the entrance to Vizagapatam on 25 March was successfully re-floated and placed in dry dock on 14 June. A large pontoon fitted with deck machinery which sank in the harbour at Vizagapatam was salved for the Scindia Steam Navigation Company Limited on 4 May. During the severe cyclone on the East Coast in mid-October HMIS Ahmedabad sailed from Vizagapatam to search for a Royal Navy Landing Craft Tank which was overdue. The Ahmedabad was herself driven aground off Coconada, and salvage operations started immediately.
No new branches were formed. The end of hostilities necessitated the withdrawal of ratings from certain temporary branches and the grant to them of intensified training to fit them for retention in other permanent branches in the Service. Recruitment of ratings (except boys) was suspended from September 1945 till 1 May 1946, Naval Wings of Recruits Reception Camps at Bangalore and Meerut closed down on 1 October 1945. Recruits were then sent direct to the RIN Training Establishments. The cadre of ratings for the Royal Indian Fleet Reserve was fixed provisionally at 5,000. HMIS Jahanara at Bangalore, and HMIS Nalini at Calcutta which comprised the WRINS sections of No. 1 and No. 3 of WAC(I) recruit training centres, were closed down owing to the suspension of recruitment. With the cessation of hostilities, it was decided to return ex-army ratings to their respective army units. Those who were willing to take their discharge direct from the Royal Indian Navy under RIN terms of release were allowed to do so. Up till October 1945, 695 ex-army ratings had been returned to their parent units.
Exhibitions and Publicity
The Services Victory Exhibition was opened in New Delhi by the Viceroy on 26 November 1945, and was officially closed by the Commander-in-Chief on 2 December 1945. This was the last exhibition and the War Services Exhibition Unit was then disbanded. The Naval Unit was specially augmented on this occasion by a Royal Guard from HMIS Himalaya which was paraded for the Viceroy. In addition to this a musical semaphore team was brought to Delhi from HMIS Bahadur and gave a 10
minute display each afternoon. The WRINS gave a demonstration of their work in coding and Fleet Mail Offices, and displayed photographs and posters of the various categories of work carried out by the WRINS during the war. They also took part in the V-Day and Navy Day parades. Navy Day 1945 was celebrated in Bombay and Karachi on 1 December. A Victoria Cross presentation parade took place in Delhi on 19 December 1945. The RIN contingent comprising of two officers and fifty ratings participated in the parade.
In a broadcast from New Delhi, General Sir Claude Auchinleck, the Commander-in-Chief in India, paid a warm tribute to the work of the Royal Indian Navy during the war. He would, he said, like to see India becoming navy-conscious and sea-minded as befitted a nation with such a great length of coastline. He hoped that the realisation that the Royal Indian Navy offered a fine career to their s ins would take hold and spread in the minds of people all over India.
Naval Headquarters, New Delhi
The general tendency during the early months of 1945 was towards consolidation and reduction of personnel in the Headquarters set-up, which was rather inflated as a war-time measure. The process of retrenchment and contraction proceeded vigorously. The method adopted was to stage the reductions into periods of about two mouths. By 31 March 1946 it was expected that Naval Head-quarters’ staff would reach the “half-way-house”, between the full war-time staff and the “lower limit” or post-war establishment.
Indian National War Memorial
Experience and developments in World War II stressed the need for India to be in a position to provide in future, from her own nationals, officers for her three fighting services in sufficient numbers and possessing all the qualities needed by an officer in the execution of his manifold duties. India produced naval, army and air forces of fine qualities and abilities. As India advanced towards independence it was clear that her fighting services should be manned increasingly by Indian nationals.
Early in 1945, the Government of India decided that an Academy on the lines of the United States Academies at West Point and Annapolis, for the education and basic military training of future officers of the Royal Indian Navy, Indian Army and the Royal Indian Air Force would be the most suitable form for the Indian National War Memorial. A Committee was therefore formed, under the
Chairmanship of the Commander-in-Chief, to prepare and submit proposals. Members of that Committee included the Flag Officer Commanding RIN, the Air Officer Commanding Air H.Q. and the Chief of the General Staff, and also certain eminent official and non-official British and Indian civilians.
The Committee examined the proposals in detail and suggested the broad policy for the training to be given at the Academy. A questionnaire was issued to the public and the fighting services with a view to obtain a wide range of opinion to ensure that the Indian public was associated from the outset with the project.
Before the War, Indian Cadets for the Royal Indian Navy were sent to Dartmouth, while candidates for the Royal Indian Air Force were trained at Cranwell and for the army largely at the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, although some Indian Cadets were accepted at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. It was clear that, if the fighting services were to be officered by Indians, many more of them than were in the services before the war, would be required. The object of the training at the British Service Institutions and at the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, was mainly to give Cadets the necessary training in their particular service to fit them for commissions in the junior-most rank of that service. It was suggested that the education given at the proposed Academy in India should be broader and more general. Only essential basic military training would be given and the Academy would have among its chief objects the development of character, the inculcation of a sense of responsibility and self-discipline and, in short, all the qualities of leadership.
Demobilisation and Resettlement
The end of hostilities in Europe and the trend of war against Japan in 1945 made post-war planning, demobilisation and resettlement questions, matters of urgent import. A Post-War Planning Directorate under a Captain, responsible to the Flag Officer Commanding, started to operate in the Naval Headquarters. Within a few months, it had made considerable progress in solving the outstanding problems. A demobilisation and resettlement section was also added to the department of the Chief of Personnel and was responsible for the planning and operation of demobilisation and resettlement arrangements for officers and men. Close liaison was maintained with the appropriate military and Air Force Directorates and the Departments of Labour.
The Post-War Planning Directorate was engaged in the production of “numbers” required to man the various “limits”.1 Detailed planning then proceeded on the assumption that the “lower limit” of forces would be sanctioned. Since the termination of the war, the title “Post War Planning” became redundant. Steps were taken to amalgamate the Directorate with the Plans Directorate On a reduced scale.
RIN Release Regulations were drafted ‘mutatis mutandis’ on the lines of the Release Regulations of the Indian Army. Release Regulations RIN were made operative from 8 May 1945. The (Commander-in-Chief in India formed an Inter-Services Demobilisation Planning Staff (ISDPS) to co-ordinate all demobilisation plans of the three services. The Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy was represented on this Staff. A demobilisation progress report was submitted monthly to the ISDPS
A uniform release system was adopted on the basis of combination of age and length of service, with the special provision that men of 50 years of age and over would be treated as a priority class. The general scheme of release by age and length of war service was known as “Class A Release”. “Class B Release” consisted of those released for work of national importance, irrespective of age and service group. “Class C Release” was on compassionate grounds. Advance information was given for the guidance of officers completing priority rolls on “X” Day.
Demobilisation by Groups
Owing to the favourable war situation in Europe during the earlier part of the year, it became necessary to have Priority Group numbers for demobilisation allotted to all officers. Work was commenced immediately on officers records. Two officers of the Appointments Directorate were wholly employed in allotting Priority Group numbers to all officers of the Royal Indian Navy. A signal was issued warning personnel not to be too optimistic regarding release from the service as commitments would probably be heavier for the Navy than for the other two services.
Method of Release
Plans for the demobilisation of the Royal Indian Navy personnel involved in their initial stage, a reduction, by 30 April 1946, of 940 Reserve Officers and 9,000 Ratings in the strength of the service. To facilitate a steady flow of officers through the Release Centre (HMIS Feroze, Bombay), officers were released by groups and a start was made in September 1945. The largest number concerned was in the Executive Branch (630 officers) and Special Branch (174 officers). All ex-army officers were released with their parallel groups in the army.
Reductions in the number of ratings were carried out in two phases, the first to be completed by 31 December 1945 and the second by 30 April 1946. In September HMIS Hamla II was paid off and recommissioned as HMIS Kukiuri, the demobilisation centre for ratings. In the first phase, 5,464 men were released. Included in these were 1,566 ex-army personnel, already in course of re-transfer to the army, and 1,385 “Hostilities Only” ratings who were mostly merchant seamen recruited for Naval Service early in the war.
The problem of post-war resettlement of its temporary personnel had engaged the attention of the Royal Indian Navy even before the end of the war. As long ago as July 1944, a personal letter was addressed to every Reserve Officer in the service, enquiring about his future plans and ambitions, and asking him whether he would require assistance after demobilisation in obtaining employment, or alternatively, further education or training to fit him for employment. Ninety per cent of the officers addressed replied to these enquiries with promptitude. In August 1944, the first letter was followed up by a second, this time in the form of a comprehensive questionnaire designed to place Naval Headquarters in possession of all the necessary facts about each individual officer.
These steps were taken at a time when it was anticipated that the resettlement of demobilised personnel would become the responsibility of the individual services concerned. The Royal Indian Navy’s idea at that time was that a kind of Naval Labour Exchange would be set up, either at Naval Headquarters or in Bombay, as soon as the war was over. Since then, however, the policy of the government underwent a change, and resettlement became the joint responsibility of the Resettlement Directorate in Simla and the Labour Department in the Government of India, the Services being definitely precluded from setting up independent machineries for tin- resettlement of their own personnel.
This being so, action was confined to the following:–(a) Pre-release training was arranged for all personnel awaiting demobilisation. This included classes designed to improve general education, but her technical training for those already doing technical work, lectures in health and hygiene, instruction in civics, and to a limited degree, participation in some of the training courses arranged for their own personnel by the army. (b) The War Information Rooms of all shore establishments were converted into Resettlement Information Rooms, and a very large volume of literature, posters etc. was supplied for display there. Similar literature was sent to all ships afloat. Models and other exhibits for the Information Rooms were prepared, (c) Close liaison was maintained with Resettlement Directorate and Labour Department, (d) Details of many vacancies for appointments in Government and other service were promptly notified to all ships and establishments, and a number of RIN applicants were successful in obtaining posts, (e) Government’s rehabilitation scheme was made applicable to the RIN. Under this scheme all disabled personnel were retained in the Service while being prepared for civil life. This preparation was carried out in three steps or stages – hospital treatment, post-hospital rehabilitation and training for employment, (f) Demobilisation statistics were supplied to Provincial Governments, who were the authorities mainly concerned with the resettlement of ratings, as soon as they were released.
Resettlement in India was then beginning to take concrete shape. Labour (Employment) Exchanges were opened and appointments offered. The inauguration of the rehabilitation scheme ensured that every disabled or medically unfit rating, provided he was capable of cure or improvement, was physically rehabilitated, and if necessary, taught a trade at which he could earn his living, before he was finally released from the Service.
Unfortunately there was a strong tendency, amongst officers and ratings alike, to believe that a man was only to sit back and wait for the Government to find a job. Steps were taken to inculcate into all ranks the correct outlook on resettlement, which was that every man was expected to do everything possible himself to resettle, and that the function of the Government was to advice and to assist.
In one direction the RIN suffered a severe disappointment. It was hoped that many released ratings would be given official preference when seeking employment in India’s Mercantile Marine. When the matter was mooted, however, the Seamen’s Union refused unconditionally to agree, the reason given being that the number of jobs available was not sufficient even for the non-Service members of the Unions. As a general strike of all Merchant Seamen was threatened in the event of the project being pressed, it had to be abandoned.